Automotive Jobs Are Changing With the Shift Towards Electric

In the face of tight deadlines to electrify the roads as well as the adoption of automation and AI, the automotive industry’s workforce is rapidly changing. At the end of this electric revolution, thousands of employees could find themselves out of a job.

And it has already begun. Renault has just announced that they will slash 2,000 engineering and support jobs in France as they transition into an electric line-up. The company will create 2,500 new positions, which is 500 net new employees, in other functions, such as data sciences and chemistry specialists, as they work towards developing their expertise in EV-related areas.

This is not the first nor the last of job cuts and restructuring that the industry will see as more automotive companies are transitioning – some fully – to electric cars. Back in 2019, Bosch cut around 2,600 jobs because the demand for fossil fuel vehicles had begun to wane, partly due to Dieselgate, forcing part of their workforce into redundancy.

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The electric car has fewer moving parts, which means there is less work and fewer workers needed to build one. All employees, whose jobs involve maintaining the vehicle with an internal combustion engine will also soon require re-skilling or be wiped out. And that includes your favourite mechanic.

There will be new opportunities, of course, such as in the production of batteries and sensors used in autonomous vehicles. But even the battery pack has fewer components than an engine and a sensor require relatively minimal labour to assemble.

The industry is not unaware of the problem. IG Metall, the union for Germany’s autoworkers, estimates that 75,000 jobs in the country to build engines and transmissions will be gone by 2030. They are calling on the companies and government to mitigate job losses with retraining or retirement.

The danger of job redundancy doesn’t just come from irrelevant skills or labour, but also where they will be making these newfangled vehicles. Car manufacturers could choose to invest billions into retooling their factories around the world or choose to manufacture these vehicles somewhere cheaper, market them locally and also export to the rest of the world from there. And that place is China.

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